2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 13

Recently, I recorded a “selfie” poem for my publisher Press 53. Click here to watch me recite “the silence between us” from my collection Solving the World’s Problems.

For today’s prompt, write a family poem. It could be about your family, someone else’s family, a big family, a small family. It could be about one person in the family or a group picture. Your call. Just write that poem.


Recreating_Poetry_Revise_PoemsRe-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Family Poem:

“as a parent”

as a parent there is no better time
than that spent with my family

whether the kids are getting along
or annoying each other it’s strange

how i look back on even the worst
moments with joy that i was able

to have those moments at all but
as a poet there is no better time

than those hours before & after
everyone in the house is awake


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). As a parent, he loves his family; as a poet, he loves the quiet moments when he can write.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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361 thoughts on “2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 13

  1. PowerUnit

    The Pump

    The house’s red pump sat in the front;
    a tin bucket hung off a hook on the spout.

    Ma would take it off and set it beside her giant bowl
    and pump until both overflowed.

    Strong as steel was Ma’s back;
    her arms, her grip, an oiled bear trap.

    When she locked on to your wrist
    you knew struggling would be fruitless

    I tried to prime that pump the last time I drove through.
    The house was boarded up and quiet in the hot afternoon.

    The arm wouldn’t move, the joints seized.
    Ma would have not have been pleased.

  2. trishwrites

    Three sisters
    They shine so bright
    Diamond, citrine and topaz
    The signs will tell you
    They’re different
    Of the earth
    The gods destined to
    Ensure they clash
    Storms of rage
    Followed by howls of laughter
    All is forgotten
    Peace restored
    Three sisters
    Joined by their hearts
    The gods smiled on us

  3. Shennon

    Funny how
    love and devotion
    can break down
    declarations like
    “My kids will
    never call her
    Creating new
    family ties,
    relationships, and
    people to love.


  4. PSC in CT

    Cosmic Flotsam

    We are all related,
    sharing a similar genealogy,
    progeny of the same star,
    castaways of carbon.
    Some might brand us
    floating rubble
    but others
    name us stardust,
    tracing our lineage
    back billions of years;
    to them, there’s no denying
    we share the same origin,
    are all kith and kin,
    members, siblings
    of the selfsame

  5. De Jackson

    imaginary family tree

    my mama is a dragon,
    my daddy is a ghost.
    my brother is a mastadon
    (and i love him the most.)

    my sister is a mermaid,
    my grammy is a cloud.
    and have you met my grandpa?
    he is 300 years old.

    we’re one big happy family
    with dozens of cousins, too.
    we have fairies, sprites
    and garden gnomes,
    a sasquatch and a kazoo.

    we’ve got unicorns and vampires,
    two wizards and a wisp.
    i think i may have lost count.
    (it’s quite an exhaustive list.)

    reunions are always quite the affair,
    as we’re a colorful bunch.
    won’t you join us, if you dare?
    maybe we’ll have you (over) for lunch.


  6. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Families come in
    All shapes and sizes,
    Some are stuffy and boring,
    Some are full of surprises;

    Grandmas and grandpas,
    Fathers and mothers,
    Dozens of cousins,
    Sisters and brothers.

    Some live right next door, Some live hours away;
    Just trying to get there
    Can take a whole day.

    Some have one parent,
    Some will have two,
    Some have a lot of kids,
    Some have a few;

    Some work hard all the time,
    Some are slothful and lazy;
    Some are sane as can be,
    Most are completely crazy.

    Some have lived in your town,
    For years upon years;
    Others are new neighbors,
    Who just moved in here.

    Most gather together,
    To party and eat;
    (Though some that we know,
    May not eat meat).

    And don’t forget pets-
    Those dogs and those cats;
    Hamsters and goldfish
    And gerbils and rats;

    There are lizards and parakeets,
    Some even have snakes,
    (Not my kind of pet –
    They give me the shakes);

    Some live in the city,
    Some live on the plains,
    Some live in the desert,
    Where it never rains.

    Some live in the mountains,
    Some live by the sea,
    Most happen to live where,
    They happen to be.

    Some live in apartments,
    Some live in shacks,
    Some live in a trailer,
    They hooked up out back.

    Some live in mansions,
    A few live in yurts,
    Some live downtown,
    Most on the outskirts.

    There are families in suburbs,
    And families on boats,
    And families on farms
    With chickens and goats.

    They come in all colors,
    All ages and, so,
    Think of the many
    Families you know.
    w/apologies to Dr. Seuss.

  7. Uma

    Strained silences suck the oxygen from the air
    we draw in noxious fumes of distrust
    exhale a cloud of hate in every breath
    a volcano of anger flows through every room

    turning the food in our mouths to ashes
    our voices melted by the molten lava of rage
    The house buckles under the weight of misery
    life an intractable maze we cannot navigate anymore

    the jammed windows have blocked the sun
    the drawn curtains darken every day
    we avert our eyes from the wreckage within these walls
    we fear to open the door to change

    but we can no longer hide from the truth
    Happy doesn’t describe this family anymore

  8. MET

    Jesus, did your mother know?

    How did your mother feel
    On the day they nailed you to the cross?
    Did she feel the pain
    Of ever piercing nail that
    Harmed your cherished body?
    Did others try to take from you
    So she would not watch your dying?
    Did you see her tears knowing all she wanted
    Was to keep you safe?
    You remembered in kindness
    You would not be there, and
    Asked your friend to be her son.
    Did her heart crumble
    When you did this
    That while in pain you thought of her?
    Jesus, did her eyes crush your heart
    For no loving son wants to see his mother crying?
    When you said it was finished,
    Did she wail out her broken heart
    For the son she had just lost?
    Did the soldiers give your broken body
    Your bleeding body to her, and with her spit
    Did she wash your face
    One last time?
    Did those take you gently from her arms
    Cracking her heart wide open
    To bleed the tears of mothers
    Who have had to bury their young?

    Jesus did your mother know
    The love you felt for her
    On this terrible day.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 13, 2017

  9. MET

    Maundy Thursday….

    Lord, wash the dirt from my feet.
    I have gotten them dirty
    With looking the other way
    When I should have been kind.

    Lord, break bread with me.
    I sometimes forget
    To be patient with those
    Broken siblings of mine.

    Lord, pour me a cup of your wine.
    Sometimes wanting to be best,
    I have forgotten love
    Is patient and is kind.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 13, 2017

      1. MET

        I have a notebook of nothing but faith poems…. and writings… I was very serious in my study of the Bible and still do studies… I wrote on I Corinthians Chapter 13 a couple of years ago for Lent… I have an odd take on things… and thank you…

      2. MET

        Yes you can cal me Mary… I have been called many versions of my name by different people… I am comfortable with most…. I get called my initials, Mary Elizabeth was what I was first called but in first grade I shorten that name down… took a whole line to write it…in hs and college I return to Mary Elizabeth, with a few friends who call me Mare….I sign all my art work with that one…I have one friend whom I call Nancy from Alabama… who calls me Mare Todd…. my clients and kids called me Mary Todd ( and some clients called me names I dare not say)… but there were two of us who had the first name Mary in the office… and they put our desks together and I just got tired of turning around and told them to call me Todd… the other Mary was the angel in my office…I was known as the opposite…So people who worked with me still call me Todd… and I had one friend in college who called me Mare Elspeth… I am comfortable with them all… I know who I am… don’t need a name to define me..

  10. Asha1000


    full dinner with the family

    Turkey is spared by command
    fruitcakes welcome
    cross buns always in regalia

    presents not required

    – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

  11. Angie5804

    Can’t Separate

    Can’t separate me from the past
    my grandfather’s desertion
    my grandmother’s tenacity
    the stories told and retold
    by the aunts who remember

    Can’t separate my from my childhood
    Dad’s bellowing and invented words
    Mom’s steadfastness and silly jokes
    brothers by my side, happy or not
    supper in the kitchen every night

    Can’t se[earte me from those cousins
    who made paper dolls for me
    we swam and skated and pretended
    and whispered intot he night
    those first and forever friends

    Can’t separate me from my husband
    who made a new family with me
    who grew and stumbled by my side
    the one who really knows me
    and loves me anyway

    Can’t separate me from my offspring
    flesh of my flesh who look like their dad
    my babies grown up too soon
    across state lines and time zones
    in joy and sorrow, mine

    Can’t separate me from this next generation
    the little ones who let me love on them
    these two with bits of me inside
    this hope for the future
    this family of mine

  12. patsyd

    I’ve posted about family- my family, but today I’m feeling lucky and I’m describing the other kind, Entitled:
    Luck Of The Draw

    With any luck you don’t get stuck with a relative that’s batty
    Or perhaps a prissy aunt that gossips and is catty.
    Or maybe a dad that makes you mad who was born with a wandering eye
    Or you could have a mother who prefers your brother and sadly makes you cry.

    Then there is grandma who flirts with your beau and a grandpa grouchy and mean
    Or you might have a sister who pops up like a blister and always creates a scene.
    And what about that uncle who drinks and ends up feeling woozy
    Then he shows up at your door with an inebriated floozy.

    Let’s not forget a brother who smirks and always starts the fight
    Then becomes an angel when mom and dad are in his sight?
    Families are fun, and when all’s said and done-we really don’t get to choose
    No roll of the dice- hoping their nice- like a lottery you win or you lose.

  13. Joy Stock

    The Family Get-Together

    Extended family, old friends
    People I’ve not seen in ages
    Their faces are familiar
    But have names I can’t recall
    And whose connections I forgot.
    They’re family,
    And they’re friends
    So smile and nod and agree politely
    I’m sure to remember in the end!

  14. Domino

    “Oh, he was such a good man, your dad,” his
    wife gushes. Is she hearing what she says?
    She can’t be unaware of his glaring
    absence from my life. She goes on, baring
    his deep devotion to her children, how
    very much I look just like him, just wow,
    “You do have his eyes, honey,” she confides,
    pleased to note something about me besides
    my nice, funeral shoes. She’s not the least
    bit shy about discussing the deceased,
    his things, his horrific death, his grandkids—
    well, her grandkids—though my shocked face forbids,
    she carries on, “He loved them like his own.”
    I can’t help but think, How would he have known?

  15. Connie Peters

    Around the Table

    The seven us, packed tightly around the kitchen table,
    laden with garden veggies and meat from field or stream,
    sat in our designated places at dinner and supper
    and had lively conversations about how the day went.

    I always leaned my chair back on two legs.
    Mum told me to stop or I’d fall, but I never did.
    My three older sisters moved out one summer.
    It got quiet at our house with just my little sister and me.

    That year, our church hired a summer youth pastor.
    We took turns having him over for supper each week.
    We chatted calmly around the table, with elbow room.
    Then one week my three sisters came home for a visit.

    We squeezed the pastor in and I’ll never forget his face.
    His head bobbed trying to keep up with the conversation.
    His eyes wide, he wore a half-dazed expression as if he
    wondered what kind of hurricane was passing through.

    There’s nothing like big family noise around the table.

  16. Monique

    Balancing Act
    (Told in the POV of Allie, my novel’s main character)

    Me and Stephanie
    Yin and Yang
    Night and day
    Pianist and fashionista
    Brunette and blonde
    Shy and outgoing
    Logical and romantic
    Anxious and excitable
    Mature and childlike
    Sister and sister

  17. cobanionsmith

    Family Lasts, a Rondeau

    Family lasts with ties that bind,
    so the little boys knew to mind
    when Daddy called them in from play.
    Seems it was only yesterday
    running to avoid chapped behinds.

    His aim wasn’t to be unkind;
    he knew the world wouldn’t remind
    them to listen, love, and obey—
    family lasts.

    Then, a call of another kind,
    softly whispered in Daddy’s mind;
    the good Lord bid him home today.
    He loved them all but could not stay.
    He’ll wait above, all else outshined:
    family lasts.

    Courtney O’Banion Smith

  18. Bruce Niedt

    Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a ghazal, so here is my “family ghazal”:

    Grandfather’s Ghazal

    For years I wondered if I my children would have children,
    then two little girls greeted the world, my beautiful grandchildren.

    Some days they swoop in like a little fighter squadron,
    attacking the house with activity, these busy grandchildren.

    The older one is smart, knows words like dodecahedron,
    the younger one just learning words – these chatty grandchildren.

    It’s a struggle to corral these foals, to get them to listen –
    I’m chasing them through my day, having only time for grandchildren.

    We careen from bedroom to bathroom, living room to kitchen,
    hide-and-seeking, speedster-racing, me and my grandchildren.

    Needless to say, there’s little time to write – typed or handwritten,
    when dealing with the shenanigans of two active grandchildren.

    I’m spent, but when they call “Pop-pop”, I am once again smitten
    with inexhaustible love for these two girls, my grandchildren.

  19. DMK

    both grandfathers immigrated
    legally participated
    from they country they born in
    one from Norway the other from England
    one a master carpenter other a businessman
    landmarks in the USA still stand and bear his hand
    both having a March birthday
    one born on St. Patrick’s Day
    his youngest child close to being born that day two day away
    two grandchildren also born with out delay
    when my niece due date was there also
    I prayed that she not follow so born a week after
    look at all the family and heavenly laugher

  20. madeline40

    Passover Seder

    There were forty-two of us
    at the family Seder Monday night
    from age nine months to eighty.
    We sat through and participated
    in the retelling of the
    oral history of our people
    as they fled slavery in Egypt.
    And after the story and prayers
    and glasses of wine, and other rituals,
    we ate delicious catered food:
    fish over spinach, faro, kugel,
    and grilled veggies – not to mention
    a whole buffet of desserts.
    We welcomed a new family member
    just married two weeks before.
    A young woman with flaming red hair,
    the whitest skin I’ve ever seen,
    and a wide smile.
    Our family is becoming more eclectic.
    I was the first to intermarry
    forty-seven years ago.
    Now there are several of us,
    including my cousin and his third wife,
    his son, his sister’s two sons,
    and my boy Ben.
    When my father heard my younger sister
    also wanted to marry a goy, he said,
    “One in the family is enough.”
    It was probably good that he died
    before they tied the knot.
    That was 30 years ago.
    Now whom we marry is our own business.
    And at the Seder,
    all are welcome at the table.

  21. qbit

    I believe in ghosts
    Because in case you hadn’t noticed
    I’m a bit chatty
    And I like having someone
    To talk to.

    My mother and father
    Really like it when I go to China
    They just can’t get enough
    Of the monkeys and skyscrapers and cars
    And how I’m finally able to read
    Writing in the wild –
    Most crucially “Toilet” –
    Or that actual, physical survival
    Depends not on the harvest or
    The ability to birth calves but
    Knowing how to say
    “Double shot of whisky”
    and “Kung Pao Chicken”.
    Because you can live on
    Only that
    If you have to.

    We’re still from the ranch
    In Colorado
    We don’t know how to be from anywhere else,
    And it’s still the Great Depression somehow,
    And it’s still the Dust Bowl and I feel the sky darkening
    And my mother saying about the terror of it,
    Thought it was the Apocalypse and brought her to Jesus,
    And on some days in Beijing I can’t see even
    From one side of the street to the other
    It is the Apocalypse sure as shooting
    And how the hell did we get

  22. De Jackson

    twice removed

    his cousin has once again
    been invited
    to be in the custody
    of the state.

    a two-time contender.
    a repeat offender.

    the rank and file
    (some rank,
    all smiles)
    bring cake

    no files.

  23. Jane Shlensky

    I’m back in! I’ll try to post the lost days.


    We needn’t wonder why our siblings
    still push our buttons—this at 60, 70, 80—
    decades spent raising our own families,
    traveling, surviving illness, winning and losing
    personal battles, living largely separate lives.

    Still, enter a funeral or reunion, there it is,
    the oldest bossing, the boys annoying,
    the sisters exchanging meaningful glances
    that reduce us to twelve and awkward,
    still rebelling and resenting, as they run
    their fingers along the wiring they installed
    years before, as they smile, delighted that
    their work is still intact and zapping.

    Refusing to argue with them is futile
    and only makes them thorny and grim.
    We know who you really are, they seem to say,
    discounting half a century of hardly knowing you.
    What is that? You want to scream,
    but you know what it is. Family.

  24. MET

    I have been doing these prompts for several years, but this was the first year I posted… Last year I posted this about family….

    Do not Bury Me but Once!

    She put his cup of coffee down in front of him.
    She said, “I think we need to move that tree.”
    “Which one?” he said, “We have a forest of trees.”
    She smiled, “The star Magnolia- out front by the ramp.”
    “Why?” he looked dubiously- it was not a little tree.
    She smiled and placed a platter of biscuit and country ham.
    She knew the way to her man’s heart.
    He smiled back at her cause he knew her strategy
    She worriedly said, “It blocks my sight of seeing people coming to the house.”
    “Okay,” he nodded for he knew her fears.

    So he worked for an hour or two before he gave up.
    The Star Magnolia had other ideas about where it would grow.

    She brought him a glass of tea.
    She said, “You look tired. I have lunch almost finished.”
    “Thanks. I clean up and come in,” He said.

    They laughed and discussed their children.
    The Star Magnolia was not mentioned.
    After lunch he returned to digging.
    She came out and told him to come take a nap,
    Which he did.

    She brought him another glass of tea.
    She was thoughtful, “I have been thinking, maybe the tractor would work.”
    “Louise, it was your thinking that got me into this mess,” he fussed in fun.

    But he went to get the tractor,
    Put a chain around the base of the Star Magnolia.
    He set the tractor to pulling, but
    That Star Magnolia did not budge.
    He commenced to digging again.
    The lights had to be turned on for it was getting dark.
    He began to cuss.
    The Star Magnolia stood firm refusing the will
    Of a tractor and Ma..
    It was nine o’clock.
    He turned off the tractor, removed the chain and
    Began to put the dirt back.
    The Star Magnolia had won.

    She said, “Joe what are you doing?’
    “I am doing what I should have done this morning,” his frustration high.
    She knew she lost, “and what is that?”
    “I should have told you no. The tree stays,” and he took a breath
    “Louise, promise me when I die, you will only bury me once, and
    Not move me every year,” and with that he stuck the shovel in the ground
    For he was finished.

    She told the story for years, how the Star Magnolia had won,
    How she had kept her promise not to move him every year, and
    Not how much she missed him, and how from time to time
    She patted the bark of that Star Magnolia and smiled.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 2, 2016

  25. Valkyri

    the fractures that divide

    the one matriarchal link
    between mothers and daughters
    is one of dissent
    each disloyal bonded pair
    continually perpetuating these fractures
    one after the next
    onto their own daughters
    for untold generations now

    these fissures fractures breaks
    in bone and soul
    never are completely healed
    only the living heal
    naïve mothers and daughters
    believe there is time
    to build these bridges
    set casts on brokenness

    there is never time
    to say I’m sorry
    to mend these fences
    when the beloved woman
    is dead and gone
    still the farce continues
    between the heartily disappointed
    and the wholly disillusioned

    yet still we fight
    ding ding separate corners
    ourselves blaming our opponents
    for this boxing ring
    where souls and bones
    end up wounded, bleeding
    where are the peacemakers?
    send in the marines!

    we need a medic
    to stop the flow
    where is gandhi now?
    or buddha? or christ?
    those who know brokenness
    those who can mend
    we haven’t learned how
    we were never taught

  26. Walter J Wojtanik


    A few years back and I remember,
    it was in May and not December,
    a daughter bride, a father’s pride
    and an honored sister there in stride.

    A beauty, like her sister is,
    fully grown, she’ll soon be his.
    A loving daughter, kind and smart
    a special place in Daddy’s heart!.

    Down the aisle I will walk her,
    bittersweet, but I will walk her,
    another day toI give her hand,
    again the second luckiest man!

  27. kimberleetm

    Motley Everyday Sorts

    Oh it’s round about the tavern
    on any Tuesday night.
    It’s some that drink
    and some that serve
    and some that will do both.
    Another round,
    another down,
    as greetings do abound.
    We’ve left the office,
    left the shop, at least
    ‘til Wednesday morning.
    So we sit and sip a bit,
    joke and boast and rally.
    Then we’re off to home
    and tasks, mundane yet reassuring.
    A brief respite we’ve had tonight,
    before the weekend’s glory.

  28. Connie Peters

    Family Bond

    Like ropes with many twisted strands
    Like muscles move our bodies on
    Like boards and nails build a great house
    The bond of family makes us strong

    Like drops of rain can make a flood
    Like lots of links make gold chains long
    Like flakes of snow can cover all
    The bond of family makes us strong

    Like glue holds things together tight
    Like many notes make up a song
    Like lots of hands make hard work light
    The bond of family makes us strong

  29. leatherdykeuk

    Elizabeth (1953-2014)

    We bickered for years, my sisters and I.
    Though the eldest thought we were beneath
    her notice and comtempt
    as was our father who smoked all his life.
    “I’m not exposing my children to that,” she said
    and it broke his heart.
    When he died she went to the house
    put post-it notes on everything of value.
    The antique furniture, the silverware,
    our mother’s jewellery. The residue of smoke
    didn’t seem to bother her then.
    She fought to cut my younger sister
    out of everything she was due. I said no.
    She took her third and we never saw her again,
    just the obituary from her husband when she died.

  30. MET

    I wrote this a long time ago.. a month before my brother Jimmy died…

    On the eve of my brother’s last days…

    It was near midnight
    When you called.
    You spoke of things you wanted to do
    Of etching your life line
    Across the crystal hour glass of time.
    I know this feeling-
    Just not wanting to be forgotten,
    A faded picture
    Stuck way back in the closet.
    I would rather there be no pictures
    Than to be that.
    I could hear your voice fading as it wandered
    Telling me the last dream you
    Were holding on to-
    The one that will make that etching for you.
    I could hear you struggle
    To tell me that you knew
    That it would be fine,
    If only you could just do this,
    Then death would be the healing
    That you had been waiting for so long to come.
    I listened a long time
    To you speak of this dream.
    I lied and said it was possible.
    You live with reality;
    I would not take your dreams.
    As your voice became faint
    And I could hear you struggle to breathe
    I told you I must go
    And I left you to spend the night alone
    While the others slept-
    To dream of what could be,
    And not what will be.
    I sat by my window,
    Thinking of my little lie
    And the hoping that you will forgive me
    When this struggle of yours is done.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 1998

  31. MET

    Gus, the gentleman and diplomat of cats,

    I fretted over you last night.
    You my hobbit cat refused to eat.
    I held you, Gus, in my lap
    Telling you stories
    Of how we met
    You ran up to me
    At the dump, nearly hairless and
    Seeking a friend.
    Your sister I found hidden
    Behind a dumpster.
    I was told in the August heat
    Someone had left you in a carrier…
    No food or water.
    Alone and thrown away
    At a rural dump.

    I told you the story of naming you.
    You were so ugly then-
    Hairless, skinny, and long thin tail.
    I had chosen Rat-tail for you
    And Squirrel-bait for your sister.
    I was out voted.
    I am glad that my silly whim
    Did not take….
    Since I found you in August…
    You became Gus and your sister became June.
    June’s name morphed into Goonie and
    You were Gussie or Goose.
    No matter the name
    Gentleman you are.

    You and I lost Ruby, the possessed one,
    The pirate cat, she was also called;
    Dexter, your dog buddy, and
    Clarabelle who scared you.
    Ma, you missed also, for
    Before she left, you were her kitty.
    You loved Ma’s sitter, and I thought
    One day you would sneak out with her.

    I told you how you loved your June,
    And cried so hard when she left us.
    I remember you sleeping on her crate, and
    How you took her “baby” and cried for her
    Those days she stayed at the vets.
    When June the mystic cat left us,
    Your refusing to eat,
    The reason Cassie came to us.

    I reminded him that of how
    Cassie and he had taught
    The bottle baby Binkey
    How to be a cat.
    Binkey sitting anxiously watching Gus,
    Ever so often, bathed his face.

    I reminded him of how Pearl had been so ill,
    The cat I named for Janis Joplin.
    Like Janis she died way too young.
    Then Tillie came to us, the trouble maker of cats.

    I told him how Cassie has gone to explore
    Worlds unknown to us, and I told him
    Gus, please don’t leave us yet.

    I sung him his lullaby;
    The one Ma sung to me
    When I was just a babe.
    I held him through the night and hoped
    My old boy had a few more years
    Before we said goodbye.

    Early this morning,
    Gus seemed renewed,
    My beautiful guardian of fur…
    Long-haired lovely he had become,
    But I still remember the chance I took
    On a hairless pitiful kitten that day,
    God’s gift he was and God’s gift he will always be.
    To have him back to himself
    Brought joy and made me sing.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 13, 2017

    1. Marie Elena

      I am a “dog person,” but I recognize the gifts of kittens God has granted my two oldest long-grown children when they need someone to love, and to love them. They are truly like their children in their eyes. Your poem is touching.

  32. Nancy Posey

    The Arithmetic of Family

    Because she had no family—no real family—
    we asked her into ours, thinking we offered
    a gift, not knowing how she’d bless us:
    her quick laugh, her earnest questions,
    her knack for seeing through the bluff
    and bluster, a survival skill cultivated
    during all those years in foster homes,
    group homes, always the new kid, never
    lasting the school year. Even now, we forget
    what prompted us to say yes, to make room
    in our home, in our hearts, for one more—
    soon to be two. We learned the arithmetic
    of family: Room always for one more.

  33. Nancy Posey


    In our tulip tree, a family of wrens
    has made a nest as unspectacular
    in architecture as their feathers.
    The mother—or is it the father?—
    has scavenged our yard for found
    objects—a bit of twine, dryer lint,
    pine needles from the flower beds—
    to weave into their summer home.

    The mockingbird nearby sings
    their familiar tune, wishing perhaps
    to belong, to have his own voice,
    to drop for once the impressions
    of other birds or our dog, whining
    to be let out and then back in again.

    Soon, if we stand watch, we might
    catch a glimpse of hatchlings, mouths
    agape, trusting instinct, trusting mom
    to deliver just what they need
    at just the right time, not knowing
    to expect the nudge out of the nest .

  34. SarahLeaSales

    Family, Defined

    “…no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
    –David O. McKay, the Ninth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    For the Mormons,
    it was the path to salvation.

    For the Christians,
    it was till death.

    For those without,
    it was friends.

    For those with bad ones,
    it was never again.

    For those with good ones,
    it was often history, repeated.

    For me,
    it was all of these things
    and none of these things.

  35. Kjean


    “Do You Have Kids?”
    I’m frequently asked.
    “No, not the two-footed kind,”
    I typically respond.
    “What other kind of kid is there?” they inquire.
    “Four-footed and feathered, ” I laugh.

  36. Walter J Wojtanik


    It’s funny how thoughts of the past
    cleave themselves to the present,
    flavoring every last savor of an idea
    with familiarity. Poems rewritten become new
    like a freshly woven thread through
    the old swatch of fabric. A cloth well-worn
    but still stylish. Transplanting a smile
    laced with remembrance.
    In the final analysis we weave
    the old and new into an enhanced .
    rumination that serves the ear and the eye.
    Why not leave well enough alone?
    It is shown in your history.
    An unraveled mystery and genealogy.
    We are all a re-written story.
    We are a tale of glory that spans
    a timeline of an infinite nature.
    Call it what you will, it still links
    the old with the new;
    the past and the present.
    Yesterday becomes today.

  37. Dini

    (This is one from a few years back, but it seemed apropos for today.)

    The Last Time I Visited Friday Harbor

    The last time I visited Friday Harbor
    -was not to watch the sunset at West Beach,
    -was not to paint Cattle Point Lighthouse,
    -was not to photograph the fox family,
    -was not to hear the barbershop quartets sing,
    -was not to see the lavender fields in bloom,
    -was not to meet her friends, attend church with her.

    The last time I visited Friday Harbor, I
    -took my cousins to the beaches,
    -chose some paintings to cherish always,
    -showed her son where we photographed the foxes,
    -listened to one of her favorite hymns,
    -bought a lavender plant in her memory,
    -gathered with her friends at the church,
    -and remembered my sister – Mary Elizabeth Keith.

  38. qbit

    Every year
    On New Year’s Eve
    We drag the Christmas tree –
    Now a tinderbox
    Of dried needles and branches –
    Down to the beach,
    Dig a hole,
    And plant it upright.

    A crowd of friends and family
    Write prayers for the year ahead
    And place them in the branches.
    At midnight
    The old year, the new,
    And our hopes
    Arise together
    In a bolus of flame.

    I am capable
    Of only one prayer
    Still, after all this time.
    For those I hold dear:
    May each of us
    In the year ahead
    Not get what we want,
    But get what we need.

  39. DanielAri

    “This morning in the herd”

    Off the train, up the escalator,
    coming through the turnstile

    my earbuds yanked backward
    out of my ears, and the jack-end

    clicked on the floor behind me;
    I spun; the black cord fleeing

    in the other direction,
    but the woman

    stopped and turned, looking annoyed
    until she saw that the button

    on her peacoat had snagged
    my cord and dragged it

    across the station floor.
    She looked affluent and smart, older

    but within my decade. She hastily
    apologized, and I hastily forgave,

    but hasty isn’t insincere.
    We’re all people here,
    catching on each other.

  40. MET

    Erskine Family

    I had wanted to be a journalist, but
    Older brothers can be a pain.
    No party school for their baby sis.
    In rebellion, I chose a tiny college
    Located in the most unlikely town of Due West.
    Some people told my parents
    They were wasting their money,
    On a daughter who would not finish.
    My parents knew I was their warrior child.
    So, they ignored, and off to college I went.

    They had rules and curfews.
    I had not had a curfew, and
    Who told a woman she could not go barefoot?
    Well, Erskine did. The thought of leaving did occur,
    But I was not one to let naysayers win.
    Those first days were rough, and many fellow students
    Were from families whose ancestors had attended
    The college where the towers looked down upon us.
    It was difficult to find a fit.
    Slowly I became a part of the Erskine family.

    Together we struggled with convocation, and
    Bible studies whose professors had studied
    In those Ivy league halls of Harvard and Yale.
    We grieved together the murder of a dear English professor,
    The one so smartly dressed, and challenged us to be more.
    When tragedy struck in the form of a car crash,
    We prayed for those involved.

    The years did pass after we left, and
    We traveled the earth but we kept in touch
    For we are family.
    I remember an attorney in my county saying,
    “What is it with these Erskine grads,
    They stick together like glue?”
    Thence forth in her mine,
    We were the Erskine mafia.

    When in recent years those who thought
    That faith should be only narrow views
    Without a thought to kindness,
    For did not Paul say, “Love is Kind.”
    We rallied together for dear Erskine
    For we were
    Still after all these years
    The Erskine Family.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 13, 2017

  41. JRSimmang


    I don’t have a chair.
    I used to stare at yours,
    the Laz-E-Boy knockoff
    that had the faux wood handle
    to retract the footrest,
    envying the smooth contour
    of the seat,
    the smell of Stetson Man aftershave
    somehow woven into the deep wales of the fabric,
    the creak
    and the crick,
    the leaning so far back that we could either
    go to the last galaxy in the universe
    or fall back asleep during Saturday morning cartoons.

    I don’t have a chair.
    But, my daughter and I have a
    place to sit, huddled thick as thieves
    against the whirring fan blades,
    contemplating dinner plates and
    sustaining one another through
    giggles and nonsense.
    The chair is old,
    scavenged second- hand from a stranger
    to accommodate visitors,
    blue in more ways than one,
    and sunken.
    So, I don’t use it.

    I don’t have a chair.
    But, I remember when you got yours.
    When mom would walk through the living room
    and slow down when she walked past it-
    When did this get here?
    How long will it stay?
    – convinced that it had somehow manifested itself
    through the carpet,
    which is far more likely than her buying it.
    I remember when you and my brother
    would rock
    and you’d invite me to roll,
    and we would pile up on you together,
    your scratchy beard hewing our edges,
    your laughter shaking sense down to our toes,
    your hands moulding away our chips and cracks.
    It was a badge,
    a medal.
    You’ve earned a sitting place,
    young man,
    sit with pride.

    You didn’t take it with you when you moved.
    So, there it sat until the
    movers came and
    now it’s probably propped up
    on boxed dinners and Styrofoam cups,
    wasting time instead of washing dishes,
    lolling about instead of vacuuming,
    or sleeping instead of speaking.

    I don’t have a chair.
    But I know that I’m close.
    And when it finds me,
    it’ll stay.

    -JR Simmang

    1. MET

      I like this a lot….the first verse got me and the title made me smile… Da used wear Stetson’s… I bought him his last one for his last Christmas… a Stetson Cap… actually. he gave it to a homeless man a few weeks before he died..

  42. grcran

    broken roots

    homily anomaly that family be
    shamily clannily
    anti to auntie
    to granny all taunty
    add ferocity animosity reciprocity
    and family values are not what they
    used to be

    gpr crane

  43. thunk2much


    My pedigree is ghostly
    empty sockets completely missing
    the point is my house is divided
    into fractions and factions
    carrying scars, relative
    crisscrosses of loyalties and losses
    of love and conditions unmet
    regret and denial executed
    before trial or peers for
    years we’ve been fading
    into shades into curtains
    for us and the specters who
    bore us our time is chiming
    midnight on the lease and I dearly
    dearly will welcome the peace.


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